PPC Ad Scheduling – It’s Not As Boring As You Think!
Want to watch a non-PPCer’s eyes start to glaze over and their soul briefly float above their body as they attempt to escape? Start a conversation about ad scheduling. At first blush, it seems like one of those detailed aspects of PPC that is there for the geeks. Like, “you pretend you’re all awesome because you use ad scheduling, but really you’re just trying to show off.”
Is ad scheduling more than just showing off your PPC prowess to other PPC pros?
I would argue, yes! Here are some practical ideas for how to utilize ad scheduling for your PPC campaigns in Adwords & Bing Ads.
Ad Scheduling Warnings
First, before we get into specifics I think it’s worth taking a moment to identify a few warnings we need to keep in mind as we consider ad scheduling.
- Make sure your budget is set to Accelerated Delivery. I want to control delivery with Ad Scheduling and the data I receive from that rather than allowing an algorthym on the Search side to determine this. This gives you more control, and as a PPC professional you should be a control freak or consider another form of employment.
- Remember how modifiers work. I admit. I am guilty of calling a rep up wondering why my kw cost was so much higher than my Max CPC bid. I sheepishly called him back to let him know I had forgotten about bid multipliers. ESPECIALLY keep in mind if you have other multipliers going on (mobile, etc).
- Remember not to overbid your multipliers. I’ve learned this the hard way as well. Start with smaller percentages and then move up or down from there.
- Be aware of the difference in your accounts between weekends and weekdays and on/off hours. I speak to this below, but keep in mind the difference between when you can expect to get traffic and when you see natural drops in traffic. Don’t make the mistake of immediately mushing your ad schedule together for Weekdays and Weekends and on/off hours.
- Be aware of timezone differences This is especially important if your client is in different timezones from their customers. I have a limited budget client who advertises heavily on the other side of the world. When I first started, I just assumed the US campaigns were less trafficked because of demand. Then I put 2 and 2 together and realized all my budget was being sapped up overnight from customers with an opposite timezone!
Ad Scheduling Tips for New Campaigns
I could be wrong, but I’m suspicious ad scheduling is one of those things ignored by most marketers when creating a campaign. After all, why break up your campaign into hours if you don’t know how it will perform yet?
THEORY 1 – Since you can learn all this in your Analytics dashboard, leave ad scheduling blank and fill it in accordingly when you get the data in the future.
THEORY 2 – Add in ad scheduling from the beginning and tweak it as you gather more data.
I tend to go with THEORY 2 in a new campaign build so I have some data in Adwords UI as its being accrued and since I can always change it later! My suggestion is to implement ad scheduling and begin collecting data in your Adwords UI from the beginning with generally common data patterns.
Here’s what I do in a new campaign build. If I have had other Adwords campaigns running for awhile, I use analytics Day Parts to identify general hourly trends. If you are taking over a completely new account, then I suggest using something like my generic scheduling below.
Google Analytics Day Parts for Adwords
You should be able to use your judgement to identify obvious breaks in each day. For the sake of argument, let’s go with this as a day split for your avg US e-commerce campaign. For the work week, you can initially split things up “roughly” around normal work hours as well as evening activities. For the weekends, you can initially split things up “roughly” around eating times.
Google Adwords Settings for Ad Scheduling
Unfortunately at this time, Bing Ads has a fixed hourly split with no ability to manually adjust the time. See the screenshot below for your choices in Bing Ads. Honestly, this hasn’t been on overt frustration for me (I usually just use basic bid modifier best practices from my Adwords campaign data), but we’re PPCers so more flexibility in the future would obviously be appreciated. 🙂
All you have to do now is set up your new campaign, and then select these options for All Days. Keep in mind at this point that all you are doing is establishing a framework for future analysis. You aren’t making any decisions yet to reduce, increase, or kill off traffic!
If you are thinking to yourself, “gee, this sounds like a great idea and you’ve convinced me with your stunning logic and clairvoyant style, however I don’t feel like manually entering this in to the 80 campaigns I just set up. I wish there was a way to do this in Adwords Editor.”
Well, good thing you asked because there is! It’s not very obvious, but here’s how you bulk edit Ad Scheduling in Adwords Editor.
- In the Adwords UI, manually enter your desired ad scheduling numbers.
- Go to Adwords Editor and update the account changes.
- Right Click on the campaign in which you made the Ad Scheduling changes and select “Copy Campaign Shell”.
- Select all the campaigns to which you want to add your new ad scheduling. Then Right Click and Paste Ad Schedule. If you haven’t made other edits this will just copy your Ad Scheduling to all selected campaigns.
- Then Post all your Campaign changes to your account. Make sure to check your Adwords UI just to make sure it all went through!
Ad Scheduling Tips for Current Campaigns
This is similar to adding ad scheduling to a new campaign with one significant difference. You already have specific time statistics for each campaign!
Google Analytics for Analysis
Similar to before, go to your “Hour of the Day” Report in Analytics for that campaign to which you are adding ad scheduling.
Then analyse your data. If you are working with an e-com client, don’t just look at Traffic Volume, look at qualitative metrics like Conversion Rate and ROAS for the various hours of the day. Make sure you get enough data to make a good decision based off of. Try using different timeframes to see if the data shifts around a lot. Look at the hours over the last 3 months, then 12 months. Make an informed decision as to trends and then set your ad scheduling in Adwords around those trends.
Since you are actually looking at hard data, I would suggest taking the time at this point to add bid modifiers to your ad scheduling.
One thing to keep in mind here is that if you have been running your budget on “Standard Delivery” then your hourly stats are going to be slightly skewed in terms of traffic volume. If you have enough data, you can still make an informed decision based upon Conversion Rate metrics, and other qualtiative KPIs. Just keep this in mind!
Suggestion: Keep in mind the difference between Weekends and Weekdays. Consider creating an Analytics filter to exclude the weekends in your Analytics report as you are identifying the best hours. Here is a filter you could use:
For the more adventurous among you: Skip the whole aggregated totals thing and look at your top profit campaigns specifically in terms of Day Parts. Create specific ad schedules for each campaign based upon solely how that campaign has converted historically.
In conclusion, I have one final thing to say about Ad Schefunduling:
Isn’t the word “schefunduling” just fun to say? It rolls off your tongue. I keep saying it.
But seriously, anything you would add to this post or have any questions? Tweet your thoughts on Ad Schedfundling using @PPCKirk so I can join in the conversation!